IDENTIFYING THE SIGNS – Military Students at Risk – Preventing Soldier Suicides

Dr. Pietro Savo

IDENTIFYING THE SIGNS – Military Students at Risk originally published, Career College Central  Magazine May 2013 Edition

Today, headlines in the media are dominated by politics, economic doom and gloom, the jobless rate, and citizens of other countries being murdered by their dictator leaders. However, the headline we should all be paying more attention to is the one that appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune last year: “More soldier suicides than combat deaths in 2012.” The soldiers of the U.S. military are defending and protecting all of the United States’ interests across our entire planet, only to come home and kill themselves.
With these new students landing in  colleges and universities nationwide, academic leadership needs to understand  suicide warning signs.

Since World War  II and up until recently, U.S. military suicide rates have been lower than  civilian rates, and wartime suicide rates in the military have historically  dropped. Yet in 2008, the military suicide rate exceeded the civilian rate for  people between 17 to 30 years of age, according to the study “Army Suicides:  ‘Knowns’ and an Interpretative Framework for Future Directions.” With both wars  in Iraq and Afghanistan, something dynamic transformed our U.S. military service  members and increased the military suicide rates. signs are always there; it’s  just a matter of making leadership accountable in regards to directing  treatment. Bloxom is a former Staff Sergeant and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran  currently pursuing a higher education with hopeful ambitions of attending  Rutgers University’s joint JD/MBA program. As an influx of U.S. military war  veterans joins the ranks of higher education, we as educators have an obligation  to support our heroes when they need us to do our part.

Many service  members are leaving the military ranks and beginning their academic journeys due  to the availability of education benefits they have earned while serving our  nation. With these new students landing in colleges and universities nationwide,
academic leadership needs to understand suicide warning signs. Here are some  common suicide warning signs taken from, an organization dedicated  to preventing suicide:

  • Previous suicide attempt or behavior that has led to sefl-injury

  • Somatic symptoms, including sleep and pain complaints

  • Stressors such as marital or intimate relationship issues, legal, housing,
    and occupational problems

  • Current or pending disciplinary or legal action

  • Substance misuse

  • Problems with a major life transition (e.g., retirement, discharge, divorce, etc.)

  • Loss of a fellow warrior

  • Setbacks in military career or personal life

  • Severe, prolonged stress that seems unmanageable

  • Sense of powerlessness, helplessness or hopelessness

  • Behavior that isolates service members from friends, family members and

What is important to understand is  that someone need not be an expert in suicide prevention to prevent a suicide.
The key is to have open eyes, communicate relentlessly and help the person  rediscover that suicide can never be an option. Kevin Caruso from  stated that 75 percent of those who die by suicide have some suicide warning  signs. Our motivation must first be to save that 75 percent.

Suicide prevention

Suicide prevention should never be the responsibility of the experts; suicide is  the responsibility of all. When we witness someone exhibiting suicide warning signs, we need to do everything we can to help them. Today, with the Internet and social media, a simple Google search provides endless ways to get help. Social networking websites for suicide prevention can connect people with common
experiences. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention Facebook pages provide links to suicide prevention websites and hotlines, as well as information about the warning signs of suicide. The power of communicating through social media can help us become more current with our reality. Today, social media is sharing ideas, valuable information and solutions at speeds that no organization could possibly hope to match. Colleges and universities can also
benefit from this limitless communication tool.

Every college and university has an internal suicide prevention reporting structure and resource. Research the
resources in your community and have this information available before you need it. Education from these sources is the best way help identify and prevent such a significant public health problem among U.S. military service members who are now enrolled at or entering colleges and universities nationwide.

Many universities’ suicide prevention programs engage in deploying various
technological mechanisms, including online training courses, social networking
and the sheer power of social media. Using the power of technology, we are
releasing the integral aspects of a comprehensive suicide prevention program.

This article is by no means a conclusion but only one chapter in
encouraging suicide prevention. As best said by Bloxom, “The problem to avoid is becoming an example at the next suicide awareness briefing.

Our goal as educators is to use the unlimited power of knowledge to reduce or eliminate suicide examples. We have become a key component to the solution regardless if we are ready or not, and we are now a part of the first line of defense for preventing soldier suicides.

Short list of suicide prevention resources:


Britton, P., Ilgen, M.,
Valenstein, M., Knox, K., Claassen, C., & Conner, K. R. (2012). Differences
Between Veteran Suicides With and Without Psychiatric Symptoms. American Journal
Of Public Health, 102(S1), S125-S130.

Caruso, K., 2013. Suicide
Warning Signs. is a 501c3
NON-PROFIT Organization and Website.

Christodoulou, C. C.,
Douzenis, A. A., Papadopoulos, F. C., Papadopoulou, A. A., Bouras, G. G.,
Gournellis, R. R., & Lykouras, L. L. (2012). Suicide and seasonality. Acta
Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 125(2), 127-146. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0447.2011.01750.x

Clinical digest. Steep rise
in soldier suicides coincides with military action in Iraq and Afghanistan.
(2012). Nursing Standard, 26(31), 15.

Griffith, J. (2012). Army
Suicides: “Knowns” and an Interpretative Framework for Future Directions.
Military Psychology, 24(5), 488-512.

Jones, M. D., Etherage, J.
R., Harmon, S., & Okiishi, J. C. (2012). Acceptability and cost-effectiveness of
military telehealth mental health screening. Psychological Services, 9(2),
132-143. doi:10.1037/a0026709

Judd, F., Jackson, H.,
Komiti, A., Bell, R., & Fraser, C. (2012). The profile of suicide: changing or
changeable?. Social Psychiatry & Psychiatric Epidemiology, 47(1), 1-9.

Manning, J., & VanDeusen,
K. (2011). Suicide Prevention in the Dot Com Era: Technological Aspects of a
University Suicide Prevention Program. Journal Of American College Health,
59(5), 431-433.

McCarthy, J., Blow, F.,
Ignacio, R., Ilgen, M., Austin, K., & Valenstein, M. (2012). Suicide Among
Patients in the Veterans Affairs Health System: Rural-Urban Differences in
Rates, Risks, and Methods. American Journal Of Public Health, 102(S1),

McCloskey, M., 2012. More
soldier suicides than combat deaths in 2012. (2012, December 20). America’s
Intelligence Wire from McClatchy-Tribune Regional News – The Salt Lake Tribune –

Lineberry, T. W., &
O’Connor, S. S. (2012). Suicide in the US Army. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 87(9),

Luxton, D. D., June, J. D.,
& Fairall, J. M. (2012). Social Media and Suicide: A Public Health Perspective.
American Journal of Public Health. 102(2), 195-200.

Parish, C., (2012)
Introduction of interventions led to decrease in suicides. (2012). Mental Health
Practice, 15(6), 5.

Pigeon, W., Britton, P.,
Ilgen, M., Chapman, B., & Conner, K. (2012). Sleep Disturbance Preceding Suicide
Among Veterans. American Journal Of Public Health, 102(S1), S93-S97.

Wiederhold, B. K. (n.d).
Lowering Suicide Risk in Returning Troops.

Career College Central

IDENTIFYING THE SIGNS – Military Students at Risk originally published, Career College Central Magazine May 2013 Edition

by AMERICAN WRITER Dr. Pietro Savo Tradition Books Publication © 2011


Manufacturing Research Practitioner ™ by Dr. Pietro

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About Dr. Pietro Savo

Dr. Pietro (Pete) Savo is a Principal Consultant with over 28 years of diverse experience in Business Strategy Improvement (BSI), Leadership Development, Operations, Engineering, Manufacturing, Quality Systems, Material Management, Supply Chain, Union Shop and consulting environments. Pietro created the term Manufacturing Research Practitioner ™ as the foundation for his Doctoral thesis dedicated to improving the United States Manufacturing Industry.  Dr. Savo has lectured at, Boeing Aircraft, Lockheed Martin, Rolls Royce, Northup Grumman, Raytheon and United Technologies on various subjects such as Lean Thinking, Leadership, Team Building, Quality Systems ISO Registrar Selection and Root Cause Analysis. Taught Root Cause Analysis for American Society for Quality (ASQ). Customized Training Specialties Leadership & Culture & Conflict Resolution Made Simple Root Cause Analysis (RCA) Problem Solving & Mistake-Proof It! Lean Manufacturing & The 6S's: Workplace Organization Evolving Quality Systems ISO 9001:2000/AS 9100:2000 Industry Evolution Building Business with the United States Government and Prime Contractors New Project Bidding Team Improvement Training “Know Your Front End” Published: Root Cause Analysis System for Problem Solving and Problem Avoidance Published: PERFECTION - 10 Secrets to Successful Lean Manufacturing Implementation. United States Navy Veteran View all posts by Dr. Pietro Savo

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